Online car buying scam

October 8, 2008 7:27:34 PM PDT
You can find some good deals on the internet, especially on Craigslist, but some deals are turning out to be too good. And you know what they say about those deals that are too good to be true.The Houston Police Department is investigating a car selling scam that officers say uses Craigslist to bilk victims out of their money. Craigslist is the internet version of the classified ads. You can find all sorts of things on the site, but it's the car deals that have caught the attention of Houston Police Officer Dennis Domagas.

"We have some suspects that are posting vehicles for sale on craigslist.com, victims are interested and attempting to buy the vehicles," said Dennis Domagas of the Houston Police Department.

Officer Domagas says buyers can only contact sellers using email. When the buyer agrees to buy the car, they get another email from someone claiming to be from eBay and asking for a particular form of payment.

"[The buyers] are given instructions to wire the money through Money Gram to their offices in different cities around the country," Domagas said. "When the victims send the money as instructed, they no longer hear from the seller and don't receive a vehicle."

Houston police say four victims have fallen for the scam and apparently the person getting the money is picking up the Money Gram's from different locations around Houston.

Police say the scam has several red flags that potential buyers need to know about.

"Ebay does not contact sellers using Craigslist and they don't recommend using another payment other than Pay Pal," Domagas said.

In fact even the Craigslist web site warns people to never use Money Gram as a form of payment.

"They post that on their site so people should heed that warning," said Monica Teachout with the Houston Better Business Bureau. "The reason they like it is that it is not traceable, you can never find them again."

Houston police believe there are other victims to this scam out there, and they are urging anyone who may have fallen victim to it

The number to report this to HPD is 713-308-3100.

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